Each fall at Academic Awards, Plymouth Whitemarsh High School (PWHS) recognizes the returning students who made the honor roll for both semesters during the year before. While the event highlights the academic achievements of roughly a quarter of the PWHS student body, it also celebrates their academic journey by showcasing some of the teachers along the way.
The 387 students honored at Academic Awards completed a survey about the teachers who affected them the most. Of those teachers, one was selected from each school to be a part of the ceremony.
The 2019 Academic Awards featured:
Amy Campbell, Conshohocken Elementary School
"Mrs. Campbell was my first teacher at a brand-new school and really helped me acclimate to a new environment," said PWHS student Emily Rhodes. "I came in to first grade shy and scared, and I left energetic and excited about learning thanks to Mrs. Campbell."
Lisa Furness, Plymouth Elementary School
"When you're barely five years old, going to kindergarten can be scary. Your world becomes much bigger than your family and small group of friends you've accumulated in pre-school," said PWHS student Thomas Longo. "Mrs. Furness was my kindergarten teacher at Plymouth Elementary School. She fostered a safe, fun classroom environment that made it easy for me to learn, thrive and become intrigued about learning."
Brian Adams, Ridge Park Elementary School
"Whenever my class had technology with him, we would all be super excited, because he made class fun," said PWHS student Luke Edwin. "I'm glad he was my teacher and helped me during second and third grade."
Susan Hope, Whitemarsh Elementary School
"I remember being especially scared on my first day of school. However, Mrs. Hope welcomed me with open arms and a friendly smile, and told me everything was going to be okay," said PWHS student Thomas Manley. "From that day forward, my love for school took off. She has taught me a lot of important life lessons that I still carry with me today, one being to find the positive in everything around me and another to be kind and caring to others."
Rebecca Rigberg, Colonial Elementary School
"When I went into fifth grade, I was a very shy and insecure student. Ms. Rigberg instructed us to do an argumentative writing project about something we were passionate about. I worked tediously through the project, and once I finished, Ms. Rigberg pushed for me to share in front of the class. Through her encouragement and reassurance, I surmounted my fears and shared aloud. This project marked the beginning of my love for writing," said PWHS student Hope Barrist. "Throughout fifth grade, Ms. Rigberg pushed me out of my comfort zone each day and shaped me into the avid writer I am today."
Mike Clark, Colonial Middle School
"Mr. Clark, my eighth grade history teacher, was an honest and caring opinion when I needed it most," said PWHS student Devon Skiles. "He genuinely cared about all of his students, and you could tell the moment you walked into his classroom that he wanted you to succeed."
Sandy Comfort, Plymouth Whitemarsh High School
"Mrs.Comfort is not only an amazing teacher but an amazing person. She cares about each individual student and is always there for anyone if they need help or to talk about anything," said PWHS student Victoria O'Malley. " She found a way to make learning fun and ensure everyone understood what was going on. She taught everyone how to stay positive and brush off the small things."
The students and their parents also heard remarks from PWHS Principal Dr. Jason Bacani and PWHS National Honor Society President Sydney Borislow. PWHS Senior Caroline Borio sang the National Anthem and Alma Mater. A reception in the cafeteria followed the event, where the students mixed with their former teachers.
"There were a lot of smiles, happy tears, hugs and reunions," said PWHS Assistant Principal Heather King who coordinated the event. "It's a nice celebration of students, faculty and parents and the paths that lead to academic success."